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Monday, January 13, 2014

Where Objectivism Meets NVC

I was asked to post about the connections I have made between what I read--how the ideas fit together to create a cohesive philosophy. I will do an entire lecture on this (a main idea essay) in the next year or two but in the meantime here is a summary:

Thus far all of the ideas I have come across for raising children, structuring society, government, making art, building buildings, relating to others and relating to self, religion, eating--everything I have researched "to the end" comes back to a clash between two world-systems: the system of freedom and the system of control.

Objectivism is part of the system of freedom and a lot of people are introduced to freedom through it. But Objectivism falls short when it comes to low self-esteem. As long as we are individuals of high-self-esteem and feel in our bones our right-to-life and our right-to-joy, we will make rational decisions and have joyful lives.

But is almost impossible to escape the American education and Hollywood indoctrination system with in-tact self-esteem. Our education system destroys our intrinsic selves so we have no idea how to make ourselves happy or what we want from life, we only know how to please others. Hollywood romanticizes making terrible decisions that will not lead to happiness but only momentary escape-from-pain.

So we make bad decisions and struggle with addictions (alcohol, sugar or television, whatever we do to escape from life rather than live it) and, as Objectivists, feel great shame because we want to be like Dagny and Hank--we want to be as rational as machines and we don't understand why we are not. And when we are being as "good as Dagny", why our only joy comes from self-approval and why, somehow, we cannot keep it up. After we have been good for too long, WHY would we want to be bad? Being good was supposed to raise our self-esteem!

The missing link is NVC.

Objectivism is a philosophy of freedom but written in the language of control. That is why it is simultaneously powerful and important but problematic and limiting. Objectivism is all about freedom--but written in war-language, in war-ideas. War does not lead to freedom. War does not lead to life. That is the other way the two world-systems can be described--the system of life and the system of death.

Objectivism was created by Ayn Rand while she thought in a language of control and lived in a world of control. Objectivism is the perfect introduction to freedom for many people because it communicates with them in the language they understand. But it cannot carry them over to the other world, the actual world of freedom. Moving to the world of freedom requires thinking in a whole new way.

Non-Violent Communication is the language of freedom. NVC is how Objectivists can talk to themselves about their addictions and not succumb to them. NVC is how Objectivists struggling with self-esteem can make "rational" choices for their lives anyway. NVC is how Objectivists and Communists can live with each other and not start a war. That is freedom. That is the world of life.

*I found this link by first reading almost everything Ayn Rand ever wrote and then reading almost everything Nathaniel Branden wrote. Branden knew the missing link had something to do with self-esteem so I followed that path--most high-achieving Americans believe in their ability to get stuff done, but not in their right to enjoy life (hence the miserable CEOs). I followed that path by studying the relationship between childhood and self-esteem. This lead me to the study of how we parent and our education system which, since they turned out to be so destructive to self-esteem, led me to the study of the history of childhood and the history of education. The study of history led me to the study of hunter-gatherers--some of them behave in such a way that made them sound like they had a very high belief in their own right to enjoy life and freedom so I started studying them extensively trying to pinpoint what Objectivism was missing. (Remember in school when we learned that Africans were imported as slaves rather than turning Native Americans into slaves? Native Americans, we were told, didn't make good slaves. Why? As it turns out, people who live and think in a world of freedom cannot be slaves, they cannot conceptualize that idea. They don't understand the idea of "have to". They're not lazy! They live in a different world, a world where it does not make any sense to do something unless one wants to--high self-esteem and a belief in one's right to joy.) How does one take freemen and turn them into citizens of a country? This led me to the study of myth and religion. Joseph Campbell explained a lot but all of it finally clicked when I started studying individual psychology and changing behavior--the Behaviorists versus Non Violent Communication, control and freedom, death and life.

*Here is a link to a blog post with a similar idea:
 http://tinybuddha.com/blog/what-to-do-when-you-find-it-hard-to-do-whats-good-for-you/

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